Thursday, October 27, 2011

Assessment & reporting

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Assessment and Reporting Assignment Two


Part A � Quality Assurance


Quality assurance, while being an important aspect of the education system, can have both positive and negative influences on the professionalism of teachers and educators. Teachers as professionals can be harmed by Quality assurance mechanisms, by the actual process of picking apart the intricate workings of the school, through possibly unclear reasons or outcomes for the reviewing, and by inadequate evidence being considered for reviewing. Despite this, there are also some ways that teachers’ professionalism can be enhanced through Quality assurance due to the complimentary aims of the service, namely to help teachers and schools with their accountability and to generally improve the standard of schooling for everyone involved.


Teachers as professionals can be harmed by Quality assurance mechanisms if there is a possible lack of care taken by the reviewing panel when collecting evidence for the review. During a Quality assurance review there are a lot of activities taking place within the school setting, with people being asked to supply open and honest, though anonymous, evaluations of teachers’ styles of teaching or competence at running the classroom. It is important that information such as this is not allowed to be used or collected in a disorderly fashion. The teachers that are being reviewed could inadvertently find out what certain people had said about their teaching, which could have negative repercussions on the teachers’ attitude towards themselves, the person, and the whole reviewing process (Groundswater-Smith et al, 18, p. 1).


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A teacher’s professionalism can also be harmed by Quality assurance mechanisms when the purpose of the review is unclear, or when inadequate information is used to make hasty decisions and judgements about the teachers and the school. During the review process it needs to be made clear to the teachers and other people being reviewed, exactly what information the panel is going to take into consideration, how the information is going to be used to make an evaluation, and how the final evaluation is going to be used in respect to the school and community (Groundswater-Smith et al, 18, p. 1; Marsh, 1, p. 04). Also, lots of varied information needs to be collected and interpreted by different stakeholders in order to get a more just, valid and valuable review of the teachers’ and school’s practices (Groundswater-Smith et al, 18, p. 1). If the teachers feel that the review has no real purpose, or that the information being reviewed is not valid, then they are likely to lose faith in the reviewing process and be unwilling to commit to the recommendations of the review in improving the school and their own teaching practices.


Despite these possibly harmful mechanisms of quality assurance, a teacher’s professionalism may also be enhanced through the aims of the quality assurance reviews in assisting the schools and teachers to remain accountable, and assisting in ongoing school improvement. “Evaluation is a process which allows school professionals to gather evidence in an orderly manner, evidence which will inform them of whether their decisions and actions are appropriate and effective” (Groundswater-Smith et al, 18, p. 0). By using this method of evaluation in the quality assurance reviews, teachers as professionals can improve their performance within the school and classroom, and take increased professional responsibility and accountability for improving their teaching and the learning of their students. As Groundswater-Smith & White state (15) “receiving a fair, just education in Australia’s schools is an entitlement, not a privilege” (p. 14).


Overall, there are many different effects that quality assurance can have on the professionalism of teachers within the school setting. With a good deal of care, caution and quality input from various stakeholders, quality assurance could indeed be an invaluable process for all schools and their teachers.


References


Groundswater-Smith, S., & White, V. (15). Improving our schools evaluation and assessment through participation. Marrickville Harcourt Brace & Company Australia.


Groundswater-Smith, S., et al. (18). Reading 8 in EDU01104 Assessment and Reporting Book of Readings. Lismore Southern Cross University School of Education. 0 � 16.


Marsh, Colin J., (1). Reading 7 in EDU01104 Assessment and Reporting Book of Readings. Lismore Southern Cross University School of Education. 04 � 08.


Part B � A set of principles to guide teacher-student


and teacher-parent interviews


Teacher-student and teacher-parent interviews are an important part of ensuring that each student receives the best possible learning outcomes from their education, and that each parent is able to assist and understand their child’s learning in collusion with the school and teachers. Teacher-student interviews should have a valid, clear purpose, and provide opportunities for both the teacher and the student to speak about the issue, subject or concern. Student interviews are also a valuable lead up to a three-way interview between the teacher, the student and the parents. Teacher-parent interviews should also have a valid, clear purpose, allow time for both parties to talk,


While conducting teacher-student interviews it is important that the purpose for the interview is clear to both the teacher and the student, and that the purpose for the interview is valid. If the purpose of the interview is unclear to the teacher or especially the student, it is likely that time will be wasted skirting around unimportant issues, without any real conclusions or solutions being made. Also, if the purpose for the interview is not valid, time will again be wasted on discussion that has little or no educational value. As says


Teacher-student interviews should also be an opportunity for both the student and the teacher to talk about issues, concerns or other topics, equally. Too often interviews are dominated by teacher interaction, with minimal opportunity for input by the students (Brady & Kennedy, 1, p.11). To ensure that both the student and the teacher have ample opportunity for interaction, a set of questions or statements could be prepared by the teacher and the student prior to the interview, so that they both have the chance to ask or say what they feel they need to.


Three way interviewing involving the teacher, student, and parents are a great way to involve all parties in the interviewing and reporting process. In this type of interview, all three parties prepare responses before the interview, which the conversation will centre on during the interview (Groundwater-Smith & White, 15, p.71). This type of conference can be used quite effectively to assist each person in sharing their knowledge, experiences and information with each other, and to learn about each of the other people, and their personal interactions with each other (Assessment and Reporting Directorate, no date, pp. 1 � 141).


Teacher-parent interviews also need to follow the same guidelines as the teacher-student interviews, of having a clear and valid purpose for the interview. Reason . Teacher-parent interviews also need to allow time for both parties to interact, as too often “teachers… assume that interviews are simply opportunities to report with minimal interaction” (Brady & Kennedy, 1, p. 11).


References


Assessment and Reporting Directorate. (No date). Reading 5 in EDU01104 Assessment and Reporting Book of Readings. Lismore Southern Cross University School of Education. 14 � 141.


Brady, L., & Kennedy, K., (1), Reading 4 in EDU01104 Assessment and Reporting Book of Readings. Lismore Southern Cross University School of Education. 10 � 1.


Groundswater-Smith, S., & White, V. (15). Improving our schools evaluation and assessment through participation. Marrickville Harcourt Brace & Company Australia.


Part C � Reporting process and the school-parent partnership


Strong school-parent partnerships can assist to enrich the reporting process through forming a strong foundation for learning for the students, both at home and at school. The information needs of the parents also need to be considered to ensure that they are informed and participatory in all the relevant and important areas. Some ‘barriers’ or difficulties that may affect the formation of these partnerships are aspects such as the differing social classes of parents, and the different cultural or ethnic expectations of schooling.


“When all is said and done, mothers and fathers are the first and most essential teachers” (Puckett & Black, 000, p. ). The communication between parents and teachers needs to be two-way, and not simply comprise of the teacher talking and the parents passively listening. The relationship between parents and teachers also need to be based on a mutual respect for the ‘expertise and insights’ that both parties can contribute towards a child’s education. Parents also need to be included in the different aspects of the curriculum, and assessment and reporting.


When parents are participants in curriculum and assessment decisions involving their children, their investment in the educative process becomes more sustained. Their efforts to work with their own children are guided by mutually established goals and mutually understood curriculums (Puckett & Black, 000, p. 7).


Some ways to ensure that the parents are informed and involved in the curriculum, and assessment and reporting processes is described by Groundwater & Smith (15), under three broad headings. The information needs to be cyclical to meet the different reporting needs throughout the year, it needs to be contextual so that it is understood by the wider community, and it needs to be social in considering the actual processes of sharing the information (p. 67). By following these procedures, parents should be encouraged and enthusiastic about becoming actively involved in many aspects of their child’s schooling. This would enrich the reporting process, as it would make it a lot more meaningful, relevant, and understandable for the parents, and less demanding for the teachers.


Some ‘barriers’ or difficulties that may occur when endeavouring to create these partnerships could be issues of the social class and education of the parents, the cultural or ethnic expectations in relation to schooling, and the stereotypical views that the teachers may hold in relation to these aspects. It is indicated by Puckett & Black that the difference in roles and attitudes between socio-economic groups, namely the upper and middle class, and the working class, in relation to school and teachers varies to quite a degree (000, p. 5). Most upper and middle class parents traditionally have university degrees or other specialist qualifications, which mean they are more accustomed to and familiar with the technical jargon and formal practices used by schools and teachers while reporting. They also seem to have more interactions with the administrative side of the school, and their roles as parents match more closely with teachers’ wishes and expectations than the working class parents. Working class parents traditionally have limited high school experience, often leave teacher-parent interviews feeling confused and seem to hold teachers as ‘educated’ people in awe (Puckett & Black, 000, p. 5). This sort of discrepancy between classes could present a difficulty when trying to establish strong teacher-parent relationships, as the working class parents may feel uneasy about creating such a close partnership with educators.


Puckett & Black (000) also mention the differences between ethnic and cultural groups and their varying expectations from their child’s education. Asian-American parents, for instance, have high expectations for the length of time that their children will remain at school, and higher standards of acceptable grades for their child to receive at school (p. 6). These types of standards, and many varying attitudes from different cultures, can present a difficulty when trying to from strong parent-teacher relationships, as the expectations for each different family may be extremely different. What one family expects may be completely different to another family, which presents a problem in continuity between reporting procedures for the school, teacher and parents alike.


Conclusively, it is evident that strong partnerships between parents, schools and teachers are an effective way to enhance the reporting process. With all parties making an effort to overcome some of the ‘barriers’ and difficulties in developing these relationships, the reporting process could be a much easier and more effective process.


References


Groundswater-Smith, S., & White, V. (15). Improving our schools evaluation and assessment through participation. Marrickville Harcourt Brace & Company Australia.


Puckett, Margaret, B., & Black, Janet, K. (000). Reading 41 in EDU01104 Assessment and Reporting Book of Readings. Lismore Southern Cross University School of Education. 1 � 44.


Part D � Assessment and reporting policies of one primary school


and critical analysis


The primary school


The primary school being reported on here is a small school on the outskirts of Lismore. With only 6 students in the whole school, and two small classes each for infants and primary, the student-teacher interaction is quite good. The principal of the school is very community minded and rather proud of his ‘open door’ policy, which applies to parents, grandparents, and all stakeholders alike. Parents are encouraged to join in school activities and made to feel welcome to approach the teachers with any issue they may like to talk about. Both classroom teachers have regular informal parent-teacher sessions while the parents are picking up or dropping off their children each day. Parents or teachers can and will organise formal telephone or face-to-face interviews if they feel there is a specific issue that they would like to formally discuss. A parent-teacher night is also held each semester where the childrens’ report cards are handed out and their learning portfolios are discussed.


These learning portfolios are put together by the teachers, with work samples from each child being added weekly to the folder. Work samples that may be used range from published stories, mathematics test results, artworks, and any other pieces of work that the teacher feels may add value to the portfolio. During the observation period there was no evidence that the students had input into the learning portfolios, nor any indications from the teachers that they would be having any future input.


Aside from the learning portfolios, there is regular observing, testing and recording of students in literacy and numeracy. As students complete different chapters in their mathematics work books they complete a short in-book exam that tests what has been learned during that chapter. Using the outcomes from the tests, and other work samples from the work book, teachers highlight the appropriate outcomes that the student has reached in the front of the work books. When a work book has been completed it is taken home to show the parents or guardians and to keep for future reference.


There is also frequent literacy testing and observation, in the form of twice weekly spelling tests, running records and student-teacher reading sessions. Spelling pre-tests are given each Monday, and each student’s mark is recorded in a special ‘spelling folder’. Each Friday the test is given again, and this mark is recorded against the pre-test mark. Children are rewarded for having no spelling mistakes by receiving a special merit award. Running records are also used to assess the students’ reading levels. Running records are used at the beginning and end of each term to assess the development of each student. These records are then added to the student’s portfolio. They are also used when a student moves up a level in their reading group, to assess the readiness of the student for the next level. During reading time the teacher also uses observation to assess the students’ development in their reading, by conducting student-teacher reading sessions, where they read the student’s book to each other, and may also read lists of words for testing.


Other than these common practices within the school’s assessment and reporting style, there is no specialised policy relating to assessment or reporting that has been developed within the school, or specifically for the school. The principal states quite openly that they simply ‘follow the Board of Studies’ guidelines’, use their ‘open door’ policy as their main source of community interaction and reporting, and use assessment as an ‘ongoing process’. During the time at the school, they were also conducting a small-scale quality assurance style review, asking parents, students and teachers to fill out surveys about the school, the subjects and the teachers.


They also have quite good interaction and participation from the community, with parents volunteering to take reading groups daily and run the canteen independently each Friday. Parents, friends and other members of the community will sometimes come to school for lunch, and everyone eats in the playground together. The atmosphere in the school is relaxed, like a big family, which reflects somewhat in the lack of formality with which some aspects of the assessment and reporting process are undertaken.





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